building blocksBasic Subordinating Conjunctions


A subordinating conjunction is a word which joins together a dependent clause and an independent clause. This page will explain the most common subordinating conjunctions and how to use them.

1. What is a dependent clause?

A clause is a unit which contains a subject and a verb. For example, “It was raining” is a clause; the subject is “it”, and the verb is “was raining”. A dependent clause is a clause which cannot exist on its own; it needs a main (or independent) clause to go with it. For example:

Because it was raining, I took my umbrella.

This sentence contains two clauses, “Because it was raining” and “I took my umbrella”. The first clause does not mean anything on its own. If you say “Because it was raining”, and nothing else, people will not be able to understand what you mean. However, “I took my umbrella” is an independent clause — we can understand what it means even if it is alone.

2. Joining clauses together with subordinating conjunctions

Examine the example sentence one more time:

Because it was raining, I took my umbrella.

The important word here is “because”. This is a subordinating conjunction. It is used to show the relationship between the two clauses. A subordinating conjunction usually comes at the beginning of the dependent clause, but the dependent clause itself can be before the main clause (usually followed by a comma) or after it (usually without a comma):

Although it was hot, he was wearing a coat.

He was wearing a coat although it was hot.

3. Important subordinating conjunctions

Some of the most important subordinating conjunctions fall into two groups: contrast, and cause and effect.

Conjunction Function Example
(even) though
express contrast between ideas Although she's small, she's very strong.
John is short, whereas Mary is tall.
show a cause/effect relationship between ideas I lost my job because I was often late.
Since I have no money, I can't go to the movie.


When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises.